India Has More to It Than Poverty: Oprah
The traffic manners may have left her aghast, but the world's most celebrated talk show host Oprah Winfrey says she was impressed by India's "glorious" family tradition and would love to return to the country which had much more to it than filth and poverty.
"What most impressed me here was the family tradition in the country and the fact that you take care of your parents, your grandparents," said the 57-year-old media moghul, who turned up at the Jaipur Literary Festival wearing a yellow-green embroidered salwar paired with ankle grazing western styled pyjamas.
Her first visit to India, she said, was driven by her first image of the country - a picture featuring a woman on a camel - which she put on her visit board reading 'Come to India'.
And after witnessing first hand the "paradox" that is India, and being left "awestruck" by the traffic manners of the country, she would definitely like to return, she said.
"Having been to a family of four generations, I got a sense of how glorious it is," she said.
The media moghul spent time in Mumbai, visiting a slum, an ashram for widows, besides attending a high-profile dinner with Bollywood personalities before coming to Jaipur.
While she got a glimpse of both the extremes of India, she said, she would like to portray the country as a whole and not "just show the filth".
"It was important to go to slums but not necessary to show the the worst of the worst, what I wanted to portray is that there is poverty but there is still a sense of hope," she said.
And while she was much impressed by many things in India, traffic manners was not one of them.
"What is it with the red lights here. Is it there just for your entertainment?" she asked to bursts of laughter from the audience.
"There is a red light on and everybody just keeps going," she said.
And she returned to the subject before finishing her talk.
"Texting while driving is stupid. But in India it is insane," she said, tongue in cheek.
Oprah's meeting with the widows too left her quite moved and according to her "caused a shift in my consciousness".
She said she was all the more surprised by the fact that women who lose their husbands can be discarded in a country where families do so well to take care of their elders.
"I couldn't understand this paradox that a country where families have so much love for their elders could discard its women just because they did not have husbands," she said.
Talking about her early life as a not-so-privileged child, Oprah said while her grandmother who brought her up could not have dreamt what she finally achieved in what was then an apartheid state in America, her self-belief made sure she reached the heights.
"Moreover, I was born just at the right time. When I started going to school I never had to go to a segregated school, and my life would have been different if I had had to go to a segregated school," she said.
Coming to India with an open mind, she said she is returning back enriched.
"I went to a family of five people living in a single room and there was an author in that family.
"I went to the family of Ash and Abhishek, and there was an author there," she said in an amazed tone.
Asked if she would like to have a Taj Mahal dedicated to her, she shot back: "My life is a Taj Mahal".
Oprah had strongly endorsed Barack Obama when he ran for presidency.
Three years later when the US President's popularity has shown a decline, Oprah is still positive about his getting a second term.
"He is a man. He is not a god. And the world has forgotten that America was on the brink of depression which he did succeed in stopping.
"I feel he would be more successful in his next four years if he returns to office," she said, wrapping up her talk and date with literature lovers in Jaipur.
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